I recently read four or five articles on Karl Rove, but none more clearly articulated the concerns we should have with Rove’s influence on the Bush Administration than this outstanding NYT op-ed piece by David Frum (a former speech writer for Bush). I do think Rove deserves some credit for Bush’s victory in 2000 against an articulate, incumbent Vice-President in a time of relative peace and prosperity. And though his tactics “worked” in 2002 and 2004*, Frum explains why the chickens have come home to roost:
This was a politics of party-building and coalition-assembly. It was a politics that aimed at winning elections. It was a politics that treated the problems of governance as secondary. But of course governance is what incumbents get judged on — and since 2004, the negative verdict on President Bush’s governance has created a lethal political environment for Republican candidates.
So what went wrong?
“In my brief service as a speechwriter inside the Bush administration, I often wondered why it was that skeptical experts on issues like immigration could never get even a hearing for their point of view. We took the self-evident brilliance of our plans so much for granted that we would not even meet, for example, with conservative academics who had the facts and figures to demonstrate the illusion of Rovian hopes for a breakthrough among Hispanic voters. We were so mesmerized by the specious analogies between 1996 and 1896 that we forgot that analogies are literary devices, not evidence.
In 2006, Republicans and conservatives paid the price for this we-know-best attitude. I fear that we will pay an even higher price in 2008.”
But read the whole thing.
*One could also make a case that Bush didn’t win the 2004 election as much as Kerry lost it.
Sidenote: Mr. Frum is the husband of Danielle Crittenden, the author of the outstanding book What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman (which I previously discussed)